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May environment news for Shelford and Stapleford from local group 2G3S

Events coming up and regular sessions

Although several events and activities listed are taking place in Stapleford, they are open to residents in Sawston and the Shelfords – 2G3S stands for Going Green in the Shelfords, Stapleford, and Sawston. Indeed, people from other villages nearby are very welcome to attend conversation evenings, book group meetings, and the organic gardening group. Previous conversation evenings over the winter have been held in Sawston, Little Shelford, and Great Shelford. Repair Cafes are also held in Great Shelford and Sawston.

Conversation Evening will be held on Monday 20 May, at Cox’s Close Community Room in Stapleford. Perspectives on the Future of Personal Transport. If your next car is likely to be an electric car this event could be for you. We aim to discuss a number of perspectives, from the practical, the local, how green the electrical vehicle revolution might be, relevant government policy, and, if time, some of the geopolitical implications. Check our website for time, but it will probably be 8pm.

Dr Bike continues to run its volunteer-run weekly Bike Repair Sessions at the Old Slaughterhouse in Stapleford, 3pm to 5.30pm every Tuesday.  Children are welcome to bring their bikes for repair but please attend with them (for safeguarding reasons). If you are interested in joining our team of volunteers or have any questions on Dr Bike, get in touch using drbikestapleford@gmail.com.   Special May Day Bank Holiday session to have your bike checked over ready for cycling as the weather improves.

Book Club – will be on 15 May, and the book they are discussing is ‘Breaking Together’ by Jem Bendell. Do come along even if you haven’t read the book. 8pm at The Three Horseshoes in Stapleford.

South Cambs Organic Gardeners meet at Cox’s Close Community Room in Stapleford, or out on location. The next meeting is on 13 May, more details from helen_harwood_uk@yahoo.co.uk.

Stapleford Tree Project – if you live in Stapleford, you may have heard about this, and 2G3S is proud to support this fantastic plan to protect the trees we have and to plant more around the village. Trees soak up carbon dioxide and pollution from the air, provide shade, and are good for wildlife. Can you plant a new tree in your garden, or even a shrub that’s good for wildlife, such as a buddleia?

No Mow May – can you find a part of your lawn that you can leave unmown for at least the month of May? Then wildflowers can grow up and flower, which gives food for bees and butterflies, and the longer grass gives shelter as well. If you can leave the grass uncut for June and beyond, later flowering plants can flourish too. Find out more at plantlife.org.uk/campaigns/nomowmay/. If you don’t want to go this far, then cutting ‘less short and less often' - once a month, to a height of 2.5-5 cm - will allow small wildflowers to flower, giving food to insects, whilst keeping your lawn reasonably tidy.

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to mail2G3S@gmail.com to sign up for our quarterly newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along to one of our events or to find out more about how we can live more sustainably. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us). 

Helen Hale

Posted April 23 2024

April environment news for Shelford and Stapleford from local group 2G3S

Events coming up and regular sessions

Conversation Evening on electric transport will be held later in the Spring. To be held at Cox’s Close Community Room in Stapleford. More details to follow, but it is hoped to have some electric bikes for people to try out.

Dr Bike is running its volunteer-run weekly Bike Repair Sessions at the Old Slaughterhouse in Stapleford, 3pm to 5.30pm every Tuesday.  Children are welcome to bring their bikes for repair but please attend with them (for safeguarding reasons). If you are interested in joining our team of volunteers or have any questions on Dr Bike, get in touch using drbikestapleford@gmail.com.

South Cambs Organic Gardeners meet at Cox’s Close Community Room in Stapleford. More details on the meetings from helen_harwood_uk@yahoo.co.uk.

Pink recycling bins – apart from the one at Tesco in Fulbourn, you may have noticed a new pink recycling bin in the car park at Great Shelford Memorial Hall. SCDC have provided this bin till early April, when it will be taken off to another village that has bid for it. You may just be in time to use it – you can put small electricals in it, anything with a plug or battery, so irons, kettles, phones, etc. Items will be repaired, reused, or recycled.

Don’t put a broken item in a pink bin till you’ve brought it along to a repair café to see if it can be mended of course! Our next cafe will be in September, but if you need a repair before then you can look on the Cambridge Carbon Footprint website for details of other nearby cafes. We can’t mend phones and tablets, but can often repair irons, toasters, and so on. If you have a computer or laptop that you don’t need any more, there are ways to have those recycled eg in the Shelfords and Stapleford we have Mike Nettleton who arranges periodic collections. See the SCDC website for other suggestions.

Local nature plan - have your say on the Local Nature Recovery Strategy, closing date for comments is Friday 5 April at 5pm. Cambridgeshire County Council has opened a survey on our priorities about what’s important to protect/improve in nature in the region, which will help to define the Nature Recovery Strategy for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.   Please do respond to this survey - it is a chance for us all as individuals to register what places, habitats, and species we think are important. The survey, which doesn’t take long, can be found on the council website cambridgeshire.gov.uk, search for Local Nature Recovery Strategy. There is information on the background to the consultation included with the survey.

Neighbourhood Plan – if you live in Great Shelford or Stapleford, do remember to fill in the current consultation form. This plan will give villagers a say in how the villages develop in the future, which is very pertinent with all the pressure on development around here. You can record what aspects of the village are most important to you – housing types, the views and landscapes around the villages, transport, and other features. See greatshelfordparishcouncil.gov.uk/SGSNPlan.

Gardening for the climate and nature – now is peak gardening time. Try to put in plants that can stand dry conditions, so you don’t have to water them much after the first year (when the root system is establishing). Invest in a water butt if you haven’t got one already. Plant a tree for shade and to soak up carbon dioxide and pollutants – Stapleford residents, look out for more on trees in the next article. And in relation to my article last month, here’s a photo of a very stylish Hedgehog Highway in Sawston!

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to mail2G3S@gmail.com (please note new email address) to sign up for our quarterly newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along to one of our events or to find out more about how we can live more sustainably. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us). 

Helen Hale

Posted March 20 2024

March environment news for Shelford and Stapleford from local group 2G3S

Events coming up and regular sessions:

Conversation Evening in April on electric transport – cars and bikes. To be held at Cox’s Close Community Room in Stapleford. More details to follow.

Dr Bike is running its volunteer-run weekly Bike Repair Sessions at the Old Slaughterhouse in Stapleford, 3 pm to 5.30 pm every Tuesday.  If you are interested in joining our team of volunteers or have any questions on Dr Bike, get in touch using drbikestapleford@gmail.com.

South Cambs Organic Gardeners meet at Cox’s Close Community Room in Stapleford. More details on the March meeting from helen_harwood_uk@yahoo.co.uk.

Pure Clean Water - this excellent film was screened to a sell-out audience at Sawston Cinema. It vividly showed Hobson’s Conduit in its glory days before the drought of 1976 destroyed its SSSI status. In more recent years, the fall in the water table means, despite augmentation by pumping water from the aquifer to the chalk stream system, watercourses can regularly run very low or dry eg in the 2022 drought. Overabstraction is the cause, for householders and farmers, and the Environment Agency has said abstraction needs to reduce by 60% for the streams to recover.

Householders in the Cambridge Water Company region use on average 140 litres per person per day.  The Eddington development was built to allow 80 litres, by harvesting rainwater and using grey water to flush toilets and water gardens. If we all conserved this precious water, and the water company fixed leaks faster, we could greatly reduce our consumption. One panel member, a councillor, had reduced their household consumption to 45 litres per day per person! And no, she didn’t smell, her hair was clean and her clothes were clean! You can save water by not using a hosepipe, watering plants with washing up water, not flushing the toilet every time you wee, saving water as it warms up in the tap and using it to wash vegetables, water the garden or flush the loo. You can check your water consumption by looking at your bills. Something else you can do is read the Local Nature Recovery Strategy on the Natural Cambridge website, and respond to their forthcoming questionnaire. And write to your MP about how the regional water shortage can fit with house building to accommodate workers at all the new developments such as on the biomedical campus – new housing developments still rarely include water conservation measures, and write to Cambridge Water Company to ask them to bring in a hosepipe ban and to fix leaks faster.

This film was made before Mr Gove proposed the quadrupling of the number of households in the Cambridge region. As current plans stand, without Mr Gove, the proposed Fens Reservoir will need to be built ASAP, or else our chalk streams ecosystem will be irreversibly lost. Spending the reservoir money on retrofitting grey water usage and rainwater harvesting to existing properties could be a viable option. See purecleanwater.film for more information.

Cambridge Sustainable Food gave us a very interesting talk at the end of January, with lots of discussion and a quiz to test our knowledge. The organisation has been in existence for 10 years and works to build a fairer, more sustainable food system, with less waste, fairer distribution, food security, and healthier food. A lot of their work at present is running eight food hubs, which they supply with excess food from supermarkets. Last year they redistributed 187 tons of food!

We discussed how our choices of food affect our health and the planet. As I have said before in this column, if you choose to do just one thing to really make a difference to the carbon footprint of your diet, eat less meat (especially beef) and dairy. If you’re interested in finding some recipes, there are lots on the Veganuary website, and also on the Love Food Hate Waste site.

To read more about the dysfunctional food system in this country, read ‘Ravenous’ by Henry Dimbleby, who was called the Food Czar, having worked on the National Food Strategy, the School Food Plan, and with DEFRA.

See if you can get the right answers to some of the quiz questions – answers below:

  1. Of all the land in the UK used for agriculture, how much is used for crops for humans to eat? 15%, 25%, or 40%?

  2. Can you name 4 foods that are most wasted by households?

  3. How much food is wasted before the produce leaves the farm gate? 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%?

  4. The carbon emissions from one person’s average weekly food shop: Vegan 36kg CO2 equivalent, Vegetarian 46kg CO2, Average diet including meat ??kg CO2 equivalent.

Hedgehog Highways – East Cambridgeshire DC surveyed constituents about the animals they most wanted to help, and hedgehogs topped the poll. The Council is now working with developers of new housing estates to incorporate hedgehog-friendly measures as they build eg holes at the bottom of fences, to enable hedgehogs to pass from one garden to another. In your own garden you can do this. You can also put out water and cat or dog food for them, and leave a pile of leaves for them to lie in or make a house. More information on the RSPCA website.

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to mail2G3S@gmail.com (please note new email address) to sign up for our quarterly newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along to one of our events or to find out more about how we can live more sustainably. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us).  

Helen Hale

Quiz answers:

  1. 40% - the rest is to feed animals. Eat more plants and less animals.

  2. Bread, milk, salad, bananas. Only buy what you need; freeze bread or toast it; taste a little of the milk to see if it’s OK, even if the use by date has passed; make banana bread or “ice cream” with overripe bananas, or slice into porridge.

  3. 30% - supermarket contracts are too specific on veg size, shape, etc, so much gets ploughed back in. Buy wonky vegs, vegs from greengrocers and local producers, join a veg box scheme.

  4. 61kg CO2 equivalent.  Posted Feb 27 2024

February environment news update for Shelford and Stapleford from local group 2G3S

Events coming up and regular sessions:

STOP PRESS - Film evening on Thursday 1 February at 7pm at the Marven Centre at Sawston Village College. The film is called ‘PURE CLEAN WATER: the chalk streams crisis on our doorstep’, about the well-documented lack of water in our region and its effect on our chalk streams, which are a unique environment. It is not all doom and gloom. Peter Woods has seen the film, and says:

“Pure Clean Water was premiered in Cambridge [Film Festival] last October.   The film’s director, Tony Eva, introduced the film.  It is a documentary that succeeds in intertwining an analysis of the impact of extracting drinking water from the chalk aquifer here with the fascinating history of Hobson’s conduit and the ecology of the Nine Wells springs.  Many of the filmed locations will be familiar to residents of Sawston, Stapleford and the Shelfords, but there was much detail that was new to me from this excellently researched documentary.  As the credits rolled, the whole audience spontaneously applauded!   I am sure that I was not alone in having been entertained and informed, but also more engaged with the issues around our ‘thirst’ for water and the damage resulting from satisfying that demand. I do recommend anyone living locally to see this film.   There will be a screening at the Marven Centre in Sawston, organised jointly by 2G3S and Sawston Cinema, and Tony Eva will be attending to answer questions and participate in a post-screening discussion.”

Tickets for this screening are £5, and are available at ticketsource.co.uk/sawstoncinema/pure-clean-water/e-gdkmlm.

Repair Café on Saturday 24 February 2pm to 5pm, at Shelford Free Church. Bring along your broken item and a skilled volunteer will help you fix it!  We can tackle a wide variety of repairs including clothes and fabrics, electrical items, jewellery and other items.  We may be able to accept some repairs on the day, but please note that for electrical repairs in particular it is better to book in advance, through the Cambridge Carbon Footprint website. (Please note that we will not be able to replace cracked screens on phones or tablets). If you have any questions, please email 2G3Srepaircafes@gmail.com. It’s a free event but donations are very welcome. The repairers are brilliant and can fix a lot of things but there are no guarantees.  Tea and cake will be available of course!

Book Group on Tuesday 20 February at 8pm at the Three Horseshoes in Stapleford, to discuss ‘Factfulness’ by Hans Rosling. This is an upbeat book, challenging the often negative assumptions we can make about the state of the world, some of which relate to our perceptions about population. 

Dr Bike is running its volunteer-run weekly Bike Repair Sessions at the Old Slaughterhouse in Stapleford, 3 pm to 5.30 pm every Tuesday.  If you are interested in joining our team of volunteers or have any questions on Dr Bike, get in touch using drbikestapleford@gmail.com.

South Cambs Organic Gardeners meet at Cox’s Close Community Room in Stapleford. More details on the February meeting from helen_harwood_uk@yahoo.co.uk.

Transport - coming up, we have a conversation evening about transport, at Cox’s Close Community Room in Stapleford. Date and further details to follow – see our website.

The Great Climate Fight – you may have seen this two-part series on Channel 4, in which three hard hitters who do not mince their words, Mary Portas, High Fearnley-Whittingstall and Kevin McCloud, looked at the government’s own Climate Change Committee’s ‘Sixth Carbon Budget’. In this report, it lays out how the UK can ‘sort climate change’ ie get to net zero before 2050, and cut down carbon emissions sufficiently before 2030 to make it possible to keep to a 1.5oC rise in global temperature. The government is not following its own advice: a big increase in onshore wind energy; improved housing standards (we lag behind most European states); cutting subsidies to oil and gas companies (which are £42m a week!); and making oil and gas companies pay for carbon capture technology, to clear up the mess they’ve profited from. Nothing very outlandish or difficult technically…. As I write this the programmes are still available on catch-up.

Climate anxiety – if you feel depressed and upset that politicians and companies aren’t taking on board quickly enough the importance of tackling climate change, it can help to talk to others and turn your anxiety into action eg if you live in an area liable to flooding, work with your community to increase resilience and help each other. Keep yourself informed and write to MPs, councillors, CEOs of supermarkets, whoever is relevant, to probe them into what they’re doing about the problems. See more in a Guardian article on 16 November 2023 (just type climate anxiety in the search box on the Guardian website, and the article comes up). And don’t assume that because you read lots of disaster stories that reflects an increase in disasters in the real world – progress has been made and people can rise to the occasion when needed! Or read Hans Rosling’s book (see above).

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to mail2G3S@gmail.com (please note new email address) to sign up for our quarterly newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along to one of our events or to find out more about how we can live more sustainably. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us). 

Helen Hale

Posted Jan 30 2024

January environment news update for Shelford and Stapleford from local group 2G3S

Events coming up:

Dr Bike is having a break on 26 December and 2 January, but then will be back running its volunteer-run weekly Bike Repair Sessions at the Old Slaughterhouse in Stapleford, 3 pm to 5.30 pm every Tuesday.  We offer a free 23-point check, and we can do minor repairs for a donation (just to help us maintain a stock of commonly-used spares). Children are welcome to come and find out how to maintain their bikes, but must bring a responsible adult with them as well as their bike. We can’t work on hydraulics or e-Bike electrics. If you are interested in joining our team of volunteers, or have any questions on Dr Bike, get in touch using drbikestapleford@gmail.com.

 

South Cambs Organic Gardeners meet at Cox’s Close in Stapleford. More details on the January meeting from helen_harwood_uk@yahoo.co.uk.

Sustainable Food - our next conversation evening is on Monday 29 January at Shelford Free Church, and will be led by Cambridge Sustainable Food. Perhaps 2024 is the year to tackle your carbon footprint through the food you eat, perhaps by signing up to Veganuary or other changes (see below).

Into February, we have a conversation evening about transport, a Repair Café on 24 February at Shelford Free Church, and our next book group meeting on 20 February.

New Year – make your resolutions green this year, especially around food. Many of these actions will also save you money:

  • Sign up for Veganuary at veganuary.com, even if you only manage it for a week it’s worth experimenting. They send out lots of helpful tips and recipes. You can save money by eating more plant protein rather than meat.

  • If veganism is too much, even for a few weeks, try Meat-Free Mondays and try oat milk. Cutting down meat and dairy are the most effective ways to reduce the impact your diet makes on the planet. And you could save money.

  • Next resolution is reducing food waste – again, saves money.

  • Look to buy food from small producers not the corporates like Coca-Cola, Nestle, Danone, and Unilever.

  • Buy organic if you can afford it.

  • Avoid large numbers of food miles (don’t buy anything that’s been flown in – bananas are fine, but grapes from Brazil aren’t).

  • Eat seasonally.

  • Buy sustainable fish (MSC certified).

  • Avoid large amounts of packaging. Try Green Weigh and Mary’s in Sawston, or order a veg box from one of the companies that deliver eg Cambridge Organic Food.

  • Look at the website takethejump.org for six things you can do to help reduce carbon emissions – dietary changes as above; reduce/reuse/recycle the ‘stuff’ you buy, including electronic goods and fashion; drive less; fly less; install energy-saving measures in your house; invest in a green/ethical pension provider and savings; write to your MP about issues that you feel the government should be tackling.

COP28

As I write this, and reading the environmental pages in the Guardian, COP28 is just getting underway in Dubai. In a year that is going to be the hottest since records began, when we already have an atmosphere 1.1-1.2oC above pre-industrial levels, it really is imperative that governments do better at reducing carbon emissions. It’s no good crawling to net zero in 2050, emissions need to be greatly reduced before 2030 if we are to have a chance of keeping the global temperature rise to 1.5oC, which will avoid some of the worst disruption to our climate and our way of life – heat, drought, famine, leading to mass migration from affected countries. So apart from reducing our use of fossil fuels, the richer nations need to commit funds to help affected countries (which are usually poorer countries that do not produce a lot of carbon but suffer the consequences of our historic carbon emissions). There have been moves towards these targets, but can we hope the UAE, one of the oil-rich countries in the Middle East, will be able to direct enough action this time? The leader of the summit claims he has the ear of the fossil fuel giants, but when they can’t even stop illegal flaring of ‘waste’ gas, a process that pollutes the air across the region, I do wonder. Air pollution from fossil fuels is estimated to cause the death of 5 million people across the world each year.

On a positive note, although China and the US presidents are not attending, they have agreed to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030, to enable a large shift to renewables to occur.

Greenwashing

You have probably heard this term. It’s used to describe companies’ claims that they are selling planet-friendly products, when in fact they aren’t really, they are misleading you into thinking they are helping the environment more than they are, and they are probably charging you a premium for it! Here are some common examples of vague woolly terms to help you spot greenwashing, adapted from the Everyday Plastic website eveydayplastic.org.

🐝 Eco-friendly = there are no rules that require companies to prove something is beneficial to the environment so this term is often exploited.

🐝 Natural = this term isn’t regulated and does not guarantee that it's better for the environment or healthier. What does it actually mean?!

🐝 Chemical-free = everything is a chemical, but not all are bad, so check out the ingredient list. If you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably best to avoid it.

🐝 Biodegradable = this claim can be misleading if the product only biodegrades under specific conditions that usually don't exist in a landfill. Biodegradable packaging is also unlikely to be home compostable and can cause issues if put into the recycling.

🐝 100% recyclable = soft, flexible plastic is very hard to recycle, as there is little infrastructure to do so in the UK. If a bread bag says so, exercise your sceptical side (but put in the bin in the Shelford Co-op just in case).

🐝 Carbon neutral = this doesn’t mean that the brand doesn't produce any emissions. Instead, it means that the company has ‘offset’ its emissions by investing in projects which supposedly absorb an equal amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Som of these have been in the news for manipulating their figures to look better than they are. Currently it is very hard to prove a product is carbon neutral.

🐝 Green = this phrase is vague and misleading, as it lacks any specific details about the product's sustainability.

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to mail2G3S@gmail.com (please note new email address) to sign up for our quarterly newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along to one of our events or to find out more about how we can live more sustainably. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us).  

 

​We have a new email address mail2G3S@gmail.com. Please update your

address book.

Helen Hale

Posted Jan 2 2024

December environment news update for Shelford an Stapleford from local group 2G3S

Events coming up:

South Cambs Organic Gardeners meet at Cox’s Close in Stapleford on Monday 11 December at 7pm.

Sustainable Food - looking ahead, our next conversation evening is on Monday 29th January at Great Shelford Free Church, and will be led by Cambridge Sustainable Food. Perhaps 2024 is the year to tackle your carbon footprint through the food you eat.

Dr Bike continues to hold volunteer-run weekly Bike Repair Sessions at the Old Slaughterhouse in Stapleford.   3 pm to 5.30 pm every Tuesday.  We offer a free 23-point check, and we can do minor repairs for a donation (just to help us maintain a stock of commonly-used spares). Children are welcome to come and find out how to maintain their bikes, but must bring a responsible adult with them as well as their bike. We can’t work on hydraulics or e-Bike electrics. If you are interested in joining our team of volunteers, or have any questions on Dr Bike, get in touch using drbikestapleford@gmail.com. You will make lots of bike-riders go away very happy!

Past events:

For full reports of these events in November, please see our website.

Retrofitting for Energy Savings and Financial Relief - speakers from Cambridge Carbon Footprint talked about retrofitting, grants available, and showed infrared cameras, which can be borrowed, to see where you are losing heat from your home. Discussion and advice sessions followed.

Repair Café was held at Sawston Free Church. Future local ones will be in February and May 2024.

Book Group at the Three Horseshoes pub in Stapleford, discussing ‘Islands of Abandonment’ by Cal Flyn. Even though the discussion has been and gone, this book is an interesting read.

 Cambridgeshire Parents for Sustainable Travel needs your input. The collapse of the Sustainable Travel Zone proposals so suddenly has left a confusing vacuum with a complete absence of policy. Congestion continues to worsen, leading to dirty air, high CO2 emissions and wasted time for people and businesses trying to travel into and around Cambridge. It is very clear that something needs to be done and whilst a majority of politicians support action, they have lost sight of what they should be aiming for. They need to develop policies to deal with present and future transport needs, inaction is not an option. This organisation wants to build a set of principles for Cambridgeshire’s needs for sustainable travel, which will inform policymaking. They have made a start with some simple statements such as: “Reduce air pollution to within WHO safe limits across the County” - but the ideas need to come from all of us. What is most important to you when it comes to sustainable travel in our area? Please tell them what you think should be done to solve congestion and air pollution.

Christmas and party season – perhaps this is the year to try and buy less “stuff”, from glitter cards that can’t be recycled, to helium balloons that deplete the world’s finite stores of the gas, to crackers with useless plastic trinkets in, to over-packaged presents with lots of plastic wrapping, to lights with non-rechargeable batteries. Most wrapping paper is recyclable now, or perhaps you and the children can have fun stamping seasonal designs on plain paper. Printed cards can be recycled, or if you have time you can make your own. And try not to buy too much perishable food. Freeze leftovers, or make soup or a pie or a risotto or stir fry from the vegs and bits and pieces lurking in the fridge.

 

Trees for Cities – you may have heard of this charity as there was an article in a recent Waitrose magazine. In the 30 years it has been running, it has planted 1,765,366 trees, over 200,000 in 2022-23 alone. They have now planted trees in 10 different countries, including Ethiopia, Peru, Kenya and Nepal. The charity aims to make urban communities more resilient to environmental threats, and they do this by planting a range of tree species. Trees reduce temperatures in hot summers, absorb air pollution by roads, create shade, create wildlife habitats, and there is evidence that being in green spaces improves mental health. If you would like to help, it costs just £6 to plant a tree in one of the charity’s urban forests. See treesforcities.org. Or plant a tree in your garden (of appropriate size, obviously). It’s a good time of year to plant a tree, and the local nurseries and garden centres should have a good choice and can give advice. A good idea for a present?

 

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to mail2G3S@gmail.com (please note new email address) to sign up for our quarterly newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along to one of our events or to find out more about how we can live more sustainably. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us). 

Helen Hale

Posted Nov 14 2023

November Environment news in Shelford and Stapleford from local group 2G3S

Events coming up

Retrofitting for Energy Savings and Financial Relief, 8pm to 10 pm, on Monday 13th November at Little Shelford Memorial Hall.

Are you feeling the pinch of rising energy bills and the ever-increasing cost of living? Discover practical solutions to help you control your expenses and reduce your environmental footprint at our upcoming event, including:

* government grants and incentives

* state-of-the-art infrared camera imaging to see where you lose heat from your home

* cost-effective retrofitting strategies

* sustainable living solutions

* discussion session

Join us for an enlightening evening featuring our speaker from Cambridge Carbon Footprint, a renowned expert body in sustainable living and energy efficiency.

 

South Cambs Organic Gardeners meet at Cox’s Close in Stapleford on Monday 13 November at 7pm.

Repair Café on Saturday 18 November from 2pm to 5pm at Sawston Free Church. Bring along your broken item and a skilled volunteer will help you fix it!  We can tackle a wide variety of repairs including clothes and fabrics, electrical items, jewellery and other items.  We may be able to accept some repairs on the day, but please note that for electrical repairs in particular it is better to book in advance. (Please note that we will not be able to replace cracked screens on phones or tablets). We are grateful to the Sawston Free Church for providing the venue for this event. If you have any questions, please email 2G3Srepaircafes@gmail.com. It’s a free event but donations are very welcome. The repairers are brilliant and can fix a lot of things but there are no guarantees.  Tea and cake will be available of course! (see below for more information about the repair movement in other countries).

Book Group meets on Tuesday 21 November at 8pm at the Three Horseshoes pub in Stapleford. They will be discussing ‘Islands of Abandonment’ by Cal Flyn.

Dr Bike continues to hold volunteer-run weekly Bike Repair Sessions at the Old Slaughterhouse in Stapleford.   3 pm to 5.30 pm every Tuesday.  We offer a free 23-point check, and we can do minor repairs for a donation (just to help us maintain a stock of commonly-used spares). Children are welcome but must bring a responsible adult with them as well as their bike. We can’t work on hydraulics or e-Bike electrics. If you are interested in joining our team of volunteers, or have any questions on Dr Bike, get in touch using drbikestapleford@gmail.com.

Please note there will be no more nature walks or cycle rides till next Spring.

SCDC magazine

You will have received the latest copy of this, which had several ‘green’ items in. It reminded us that electrical waste can be recycled eg at Tesco in Fulbourn. Look out for the bright pink bins. It also highlighted food waste, giving tips and advice (and a free draw!) at recap.co.uk/pledge-to-fight-food-waste. Other topics featured included caring for nature in your gardens over winter (lots of advice on the RSPB website), and grants for retrofitting and upgrading your heating boiler.

Repairing across the World

From Peter Woods, our Repair Café organiser:

“I recently attended the 2nd ever European Repair Café Conference, an on-line event with speakers and attendees from the UK, Europe, and the USA. We know that our own Repair Cafes are very popular, but we suspect that there are a lot of people out there who have not even heard of them, and we are always trying to think of ways to expand awareness of Repair Cafes and the whole ‘Reduce-Repair-Reuse-Recycle’ mentality.   It seems we are not alone, with similar thoughts being expressed by several of the speakers at the conference.  

But while we try to find ways to appeal to a wider audience, in particular to be inclusive of younger people, there is a trend in continental Europe toward making the idea of repairing, rather than (throwing away and) replacing, mainstream. Since January 2021, shoppers in electronics and appliance shops around France have seen new colour-coded labels on some products, showing a score of how easy it should be to have the product repaired. The scores are part of the world’s first repair index, which campaigners believe could have a global impact.  

More recently, France is initiating a clothing repair program, intended to reduce waste. Each year in France, around 772,000 tons of clothes are discarded, with two-thirds of them — many items likely perfectly wearable — adding to the heaps of usable ‘trash’ in landfills.  The new scheme involves the government offering a ‘repair bonus’ for people to have their clothes mended.  Starting in October 2023, those joining the programme will be able to receive a credit of €6 - €25 for bringing their shoes and clothes to a cobbler or workshop to be mended.

I still think a cup of tea and a chat, as available at our Repair Cafes, is even better value, but this is an interesting concept that I hope we might see considered on this side of la Manche.

The EU is drafting legislation that would apply throughout the EU, to require manufacturers to provide a repairability rating for their products, similar in concept to the A+, A, B, C, D etc ‘energy rating’ we are familiar with, and also an obligation to make information (and spare parts) available to consumers and repairers.   This reminds me of what we already are used to for motor vehicles – of course it's not affordable to scrap a car because, say, the radiator is leaking, but replacement radiators are available and there are plenty of competent workshops who can carry out the repair (for a fee of course).  This contrasts with what we find at our Repair Cafes even for quite expensive electrical and electronic items, where it may not even be possible to access the interior of a device without damaging it; and when a fault can be traced to a defective component, no spare is available. Repair Cafes are explicitly considered in the draft EU legislation, which is an indicator of how influential the Repair Café movement has become.”

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to greengroupssss@gmail.com to sign up for our quarterly newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along to one of our events or to find out more about how we can live more sustainably. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us). 

Helen Hale

Posted Oct 10 2023

2G3S Shelford and Stapleford October environment update

Dr Bike repairs will continue at the Slaughterhouse in Stapleford on Tuesday afternoons, 3pm to 5.30pm. Come and have your bike checked over, and small repairs done on site for a small donation.

South Cambs Organic Gardening Group meets on Monday 16 October at Cox’s Close, Stapleford, at 7pm.

Nature walk on Saturday 21 October at 2pm, at the Wale Recreation Ground in Little Shelford, with naturalist John O’Boyle. Just turn up, meet at 2pm at the entrance gate opposite 46 Whittlesford Road. The walk is at your own risk, and do wear suitable clothes and footwear.

Cycle ride is on Monday 16 October. Start at 10am at Stapleford Pavilion. Booking essential, at greener@sawston.org.

Film Screening on Sunday 15 October at 7pm, at Whittlesford Memorial Hall, Mill Lane, CB22 4NE (with Eco Whittlesford). There will be a film from the 'Local Futures' organisation: 'Planet Local: a Quiet Revolution'. This 50-minute film celebrates the power of community and gives voice to a growing number of people building a more beautiful world. Featuring grassroots activists from every continent alongside internationally known figures like Noam Chomsky, Vandana Shiva, Russell Brand, Naomi Klein, Jane Goodall, Gabor Maté and Helena Norberg-Hodge – all of them bringing inspiration and clarity to a world full of dark news. We hope you will stay for an informal discussion after the film. Refreshments provided. There is no charge but donations welcome.

Community Energy event on Sunday 22 October, 2pm to 5pm, again at Whittlesford Memorial Hall. Cambridge Carbon Footprint, 2G3S and Haslingfield and Harlton Eco Group have joined forces for an exciting event - Reimagining Community Energy Together. This in-person gathering is a fantastic opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who share a passion for sustainable energy solutions.

This event will focus on community energy - what it is, why it’s a good thing, who is working on it, and how your community can have a go.

Includes expert speakers and stalls from Octopus Energy’s community energy project, Younity, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Head of Energy Services Eithne George, Transition Cambridge, and local people at various stages of actual community energy projects, including solar, wind and heat networks. Together we will explore how communities can work together to develop their own renewable community energy generation schemes.

Community energy programmes often start with reducing energy needs in the first place, so we’ll also have local retrofitting experts on hand who can answer your questions about transitioning to comfortable, cost-effective homes that are good for us and the planet.

Expect engaging discussions, inspiring talks, and networking opportunities with experts in the field. Whether you're an energy enthusiast, a community leader, or simply curious about green initiatives, this event is for you!

Book your free tickets here: eventbrite.com/e/reimagining-community-energy-together-tickets-710219675167

Looking ahead

Conversation evening in November in Little Shelford: Wrapping up for Winter.  If you want to reduce your heating bills, where do you start?   We will discuss the value of EPCs, thermal surveys, and practical steps from topping up loft insulation to a whole house retrofit.

The next Repair Cafe is on Saturday 18 November in Sawston at the Free Church.

More details of both events in next month’s magazine, or see our website.

Make Your Money Matter

Did you know that making your pension ‘green’ is 21 times more effective than giving up flying, becoming a vegetarian, and switching to a renewable energy provider combined, say the campaign group Make My Money Matter. There’s a whopping three trillion pounds invested on our behalf in UK pensions, much of which is funding fossil fuels and driving deforestation. Pension funds financially support almost every sector, including arms and tobacco, making us unintentional investors in the practices we condemn.   This is our money, so what can we do?  For starters, we can contact our current provider and ask them to go green. There's a pre-written email on the Make Our Money Matter website that gets sent directly to your particular pension provider and requests that they use their power to end fossil fuel expansion, tackle deforestation in their portfolio, and invest more in climate solutions. We can also ask our employers to move our money into sustainable pensions and fossil fuel-free investments.

Nest, the UK's largest workplace pensions provider, has an Ethical Fund which invests with a view to how people and the planet are treated, and along with Cushon, who have the world's first Net Zero pension, they aim to develop new forestry investment strategies to address climate change pressures.

If you have a private pension, or are looking to start one, PensionBee's Sustainable Investing prioritises funding companies that consider their long-term impact on people and the environment. Their Fossil Fuel Free Plan is one of the UK’s first mainstream private pensions to completely exclude companies with proven or probable reserves in oil, gas or coal, tobacco companies, manufacturers of controversial weapons, and persistent violators of the UN Global Compact, whilst also investing more of your money in companies that are aligned with the Paris Agreement. If you use a financial adviser, ask him/her about other ESG funds.

And this doesn't mean your investments won't grow. Quite the contrary. Peter Michaelis, head of sustainable investment at Liontrust, said “We believe sustainable companies have better growth prospects and are more resilient than businesses not prioritising environmental, social and governance issues. These advantages remain underappreciated by the wider market.”

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to greengroupssss@gmail.com to sign up for our quarterly newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along to one of our events or to find out more about how we can live more sustainably. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us). 

Helen Hale

Posted Oct 2 2023

2G3S Shelford and Stapleford September environmental update

Here are some forthcoming dates for your diary, hope to see you at some of them.

 

Dr Bike is running a special ‘Back To School’ session for children (with their parents, for safeguarding reasons) on Sunday 3 September, from 10am to 4pm. This will be really useful if your child is going to cycle to Sawston Village College, as they can learn the basic checks needed on their bikes. Regular sessions will continue to run in the Slaughterhouse in Stapleford every Tuesday afternoon from 3pm to 6pm, till the end of September at least. A 23-point check is free of charge, and a repair or adjustment can be done for a small donation that goes towards parts, oil, etc.

 

South Cambs Organic Gardening Group meets on Monday 11 September at Cox’s Close, Stapleford, at 7pm.

Nature walk on Saturday 16 September at 2pm, at Wandlebury, with naturalist John O’Boyle. Meet at the top of the car park. The walk is at your own risk, and do wear suitable clothes and footwear.

 

Cycle ride is on Monday 18 September. Start at 10am at Stapleford Pavilion. Booking essential, at greener@sawston.org.

Talk/conversation evening – at the time of writing this will be in Sawston at the Free Church, at 7.30pm on Monday 25 September. Two officers from SCDC will talk about small cheap ways we can all save energy, but in particular tenants, who cannot install solar panels, insulation, and so on. Check our website or posters then come along and get ready for cooler weather!

 

Save the dates - we are planning a film showing on Sunday 15 October in Whittlesford; and an energy event in the City Centre on Sunday 22 October, at which Younity, part of Octopus Energy, will talk about community energy generation, and there will be speakers and advice about reducing your home’s energy usage.

 

Conversation/discussion evenings will also be held in November, January and February on a variety of topics, but all helping to address the cost of living as well as the climate crisis. More info on all these to come.

Repair Cafe – if you missed our last one at the Rugby Club in Great Shelford, the next one is on Saturday 18 November in Sawston. At the last one, our great team of repairers dealt with well over 50 items, repairing over 70% of them and helping the owners of the items understand what they were doing, in case future repairs were needed. Many of the remaining items were repairable if parts were obtained. We used the extra space at the Club for a SWISH clothes swap, which again was very successful, taking in donations of 57lbs of good-quality clothes and only being left with 19lbs to take to the Arthur Rank Hub in Sawston. There is a lovely friendly, social atmosphere at these events, helped by copious amounts of cake! Repairs and clothes were not charged for, though donations were gratefully received, as we have to pay for the premises, the hire of tool kits from Mackays, and support for Cambridge Carbon Footprint who co-ordinate and promote all the repair cafes in the region.

Other green matters

The BBC has shown two interesting programmes recently, one on electric cars, and the other on air source heat pumps. In each one, the technology is explained, and all the various factors that are relevant are considered. In the case of the heat pump programme, they look at alternatives for heating homes (such as hydrogen), electricity generation, whether the national grid can cope, with interviews and case studies. See BBC iplayer.

Some of you will have come across critical comments by Alan Titchmarsh, amongst others, concerning wilding, letting grass grow, and so on. However, ‘wilding’ doesn’t mean ‘never mow’ – if you just leave your lawn or verges and never cut them, over time you get dominant species like certain grasses, nettles, brambles, thistles taking over. There is a need to manage your mowing in some way, and there are various timings detailed on the website plantlife.org.uk, depending on what wildlife you want to attract.  If you have not cut an area of grass since the Spring it’s probably a good idea to do it now.

As I write we have all the dreadful wildfires in the Mediterranean, in Asia, In North America, which climate scientists say would be almost impossible if it wasn’t for global warming. Yet we have UK politicians diluting their commitment to net zero. Indeed, measures to cut carbon need to be introduced in a way that doesn’t penalise those people most unable to afford any extra cost. But when Centrica, Shell and other companies in the fossil fuel industries declare record profits there has to be something to address. At a personal level, many things you do to help the environment can actually save you money, eg switching off your car engine while in a queue at road works/traffic lights/level crossings or idling will save you money as well as reduce air pollution for nearby residents and passersby; or only buying the food you need, and using up/freezing leftovers; or eating less meat; or improving the insulation of your home.

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to greengroupssss@gmail.com to sign up for our quarterly newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along to one of our events or to find out more about how we can live more sustainably. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us). 

Helen Hale

Posted Aug 16 2023

2G3S Shelford and Stapleford environmental update

Dates for your diary

Nature walk with John O’Boyle – Bury Farm track, Saturday 19 August, 2pm. Meet at the start of the track near the Granary. The walk is at your own risk, and do wear suitable clothes and footwear. John will point out plants and insects along the path, and is very knowledgeable about all things nature.

Book Group – is on Tuesday 22 August at The Three Horseshoes, discussing ‘Reimagining Capitalism’ by Rebecca Henderson. If you want to join us at Book Club please send an email to 2G3S with ‘Book Club’ in the title (so we can let you know of any changes and future events).

 

Dr Bike – cycle repair shop every Tuesday from 3pm to 6pm, at the Old Slaughterhouse in Stapleford. We hope to run a ‘back to school’ session for parents and children on Sunday 3 September, more details will appear on our website or in the August magazines.

 

Cycle ride – there isn’t one in August, but the next one will be on Monday 18 September. Start at 10am at Stapleford Pavilion. Booking essential, at greener@sawston.org.

 

Advance notice – we are planning a film showing on Sunday 15 October in Whittlesford; and an energy event in the City Centre on Sunday 22 October, at which Younity, part of Octopus Energy, will talk about community energy generation, and there will be speakers and advice about reducing your home’s energy usage. Conversation/discussion evenings will also be held in September, November, January and February on a variety of topics. More info on all these in future magazines.

 

Repairing, reusing and recycling – as I write this we are organising our Repair Café and SWISH event at Shelford Rugby Club. Hope some of you came along and had items repaired, or picked up a new-to-you summer outfit. Our repairers are very skilled and patient and will often manage to fix broken items, saving you money and landfill space. More generally, when you are recycling items and are not sure which bin to put it in or where to take it, see SCDC’s website at scambs.gov.uk/bins.

 

I am trying to avoid single-use plastic as it’s Plastic Free July – it’s hard! I get a veg box delivered already, and have taken my own boxes (old takeaway boxes) to the butchers and the Thursday fish man in Sawston for meat and fish, and visited Green Weigh and Mary’s in Sawston. I am avoiding the big supermarkets as nearly everything is in plastic – but I know I’ll have a long list of groceries needed in August to stock up! The point is to continue some of these habits into the future, reducing the amount of plastic packaging going in my bin. Supermarkets really need to step up in packaging items differently.

 

Books to read – apart from reading our book group books, you might be interested in these two books. One is all about fungi, Merlin Sheldrake’s ‘Entangled Life’. It describes how ubiquitous and adaptive this life form is and how vital fungi are to plant growth. You may have heard of the ‘Wood Wide Web’ – it refers to the network of fungal fibres that connect up the trees in a wood, sharing nutrients, communicating disease risks, and other things. And written in a very easy-to-read style. Did you know a growing fungus can negotiate a maze?  The other book I’ve read recently is ‘The Earth Transformed’ by Peter Frankopan. He is a historian, and has written books on the Silk Roads, both old and new (the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative). This new book is a world history, showing how climate has affected our history since ancient times, by affecting agriculture, the spread of diseases, and putting pressures on socioeconomic structures such that civilisations can fall if they don’t adapt. He likens the environment to a stage that animals and plants, including us, live on – when the stage collapses we all go with it. It is quite appalling to read what we have done to the Earth, and it seems impossible that people will work together to halt carbon emissions and environmental damage quickly enough to avoid horrific temperature rises, with all the knock-on effects on weather and agriculture that will cause. But although it feels like we might as well give up, anything we can do, or push our politicians and businesses to do, will reduce the temperature rises and subsequent environmental changes that our grandchildren will have to endure.

 

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to greengroupssss@gmail.com to sign up for our quarterly newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along to one of our events or to find out more about how we can live more sustainably. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us). 

Helen Hale

Posted July 27 2023

2G3S Nature Walks

Our Nature Walks are held on the 3rd or 4th Saturday of the month and start at 2 p.m. Walks are intended to raise awareness of local wildlife sites and associated fauna and flora. Participants are welcome to share their knowledge. All walks are at attendees own risk.

Here is a list of the walks planned for 2023:

  • Dernford Reservoir – 18 March

  • Jenny’s Path Great Shelford – 22 April

  • Little Shelford Community Orchard and Woodland – May 20

  • Stapleford graveyard meadow – 17 June

  • Nine Wells – 22 July

  • Bury Farm Track – 19 August

  • Wandlebury – 16 September

  • Wale Recreation ground and woodland – 21 October

     

Please remember that dates and details may change, so we advise participants to check the 2G3S web site beforehand.

Nature walk at Dernford Reservoir - 18th March 2023

Join me for an informal local nature walk around Dernford Reservoir on Saturday 18th March between 2-4 pm. The reservoir area has public access following amelioration of the former gravel quarry. There is a meadow flora around the reservoir and some interesting bird life.

Meet at 2 p.m. at the car park next to the reservoir off Cambridge Road just south of the village (Map reference TL471511). As you come out of Stapleford on the Cambridge Road you will see the Rose pub restaurant on the left. Continue over the road bridge and take the first right up the former quarry service road. Continue for 250m and the small car park is on the right.

Sturdy footwear is advised and appropriate attire for the weather conditions. Binoculars would be useful. Note these walks are intended to raise awareness of our local wildlife sites and share knowledge of the local fauna and flora, though you attend at your own risk.

John O'Boyle

Posted Feb 16 2023

Great Shelford environment update - February 2023

 

Dr Bike ‘Making your bike better’ is run by volunteers at the Slaughterhouse in Church Street, Stapleford, and will now run through until at least Easter. Sessions are Thursdays, 3pm to 5.30pm.

In our first sessions, until just before Christmas, we fixed numerous bikes, some only needing minor adjustments to get them into fine fettle, but common faults have been worn or corroded brake or gear cables, or just lack of lubrication. We can show you the required 22-point check, for your or your children’s bikes, and usually fix any issues. That knowledge should help you in the future. We’ve now even a supply of minor parts that are often all that is needed to make your bike better.

We’ve a band of experienced but amateur bike fixers, but also need more helpers to build up a team so we can run into the summer. For each session we need one experienced person capable of understanding and fixing those difficult-to find-issues, but we also need volunteers for the majority of minor fixes or adjustments - all that is needed is a little DIY skill, the right tool (which we have), those few spares, and our printed check sheet. If you’ve those sorts of DIY mechanic skills and can spare a Thursday afternoon just once each month, we need you.

For those of you with a bike that isn’t quite right, or a child’s bike that has seen better days, please bring them along and we’ll do our best to make them better. All we ask is that you follow our 22-point check, to help see how best you can maintain your bike, and that if adjustments or minor repairs are needed that you leave us a donation to help maintain our stock of minor parts and consumables.

We want to continue to run this service for those who live in our local villages, but this needs both customers, and volunteer helpers, to ensure better bikes for all in our villages.

This scheme is supported by 2G3S (Green Groups in Stapleford, Shelford & Sawston), as well as the local Repair Café organisation. We can be contacted via drbikestapleford@gmail.com.

Dates coming up

Repair Café at Great Shelford Free Church, on Saturday 11 February, 2pm to 4.30pm. We are grateful to the church for providing the venue for our event. Bring along your broken item and a skilled volunteer will help you fix it!  We can tackle a wide variety of repairs including clothes and fabrics, electrical items, jewellery and other items.  We may be able to accept some items on the day, but please note that for electrical repairs in particular, it is better to book in advance. (Please note that we will not be able to replace cracked screens on phones or tablets).

You will be able to book your item in via the booking link on the Cambridge Carbon Footprint web page

cambridgecarbonfootprint.org/events/great-shelford-repair-cafe-3/.  Bookings will remain open until Tuesday 7th February, but may close earlier if we become fully booked. If you have any questions, please email southcambsrepaircafe@gmail.com. It's a free event but donations are very welcome. The repairers are brilliant and can fix a lot of things but there are no guarantees.  Tea and cake will be available of course!

Planning meeting is on Monday 20 February at Cox’s Close in Stapleford, 8pm.

Book Club – our next meeting is on Thursday 23 February at 7.30pm, at the Rose pub in Stapleford. The book is George Monbiot’s ‘Regenesis: Feed the World Without Devouring the Planet’. You may have seen him at the recent Cambridge Literary Festival. Come along and listen to the discussion even if you don’t read the book, or read the book even if you don’t come to the meeting.

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to greengroupssss@gmail.com to sign up for our quarterly newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along to one of our events or to find out more about how we can live more sustainably. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us). 

Helen Hale 2G3S

Posted Jan 18 2023

Great Shelford environment news

 

2G3S update

2G3S is a friendly and informal group where visitors and new members are always welcome. Sometimes people just come along for one talk because they are interested in a particular topic, sometimes they would like to join in on a more regular basis.

Upcoming events

On Wednesday 2 November we are having a Strategic Planning Meeting where we will discuss themes such as what issues we feel we should be working on as a group, and how we are achieving our mission statement (see our website). From there we will brainstorm some ideas of what we would like to do next year. It is an open meeting and all are welcome, even if you have never met us before! So, if you fancy getting involved in a Repair Cafe, discussing ideas on how to reduce single use plastic, rewilding a garden, planning a campaign or just listening in to the discussion - come along and join us and input your thoughts and ideas. We’re meeting at 8pm in Cox's Close Community Room, Stapleford. Please email 2G3S (greengroupssss@gmail.com) to let us know if you are planning to come along or even if you would just like to send us some ideas!

Monday 21 November - social cycle ride starting from Stapleford Pavilion at 10 am. Join us for a leisurely ride on quiet roads and traffic-free paths of around 20 miles, to include a coffee stop. Returning to Stapleford by about 1pm. This will be the last until Spring 2023. To book in email greener@sawston.org.

For cycle rides and walks, it is important that you are aware that you attend at your own risk. We do not accept responsibility for any accidents or mishaps that might arise during the activity.

Our book club meets on Thursday 24 November at 8pm to discuss ‘Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson / ‘Silent Spring Revisited’ by Conor Mark Jameson. This latter title was published in 2012, and focuses on what happened to particularly birds in the 50 years after the original classic ‘Silent Spring’ was published. All welcome – do come along having read both, either, or neither. For venue check our website.

Apologies - the nature walk with John O’Boyle that was advertised to be on 15 October had to rescheduled to 29 October, many apologies if you turned up to find no-one there. There will be no more nature walks until 2023 now.

 

Bart Hommels “Retrofitting your home”

On 3 October we hosted Bart Hommels, talking about retrofitting his own house. He got interested when he started doing an extension, and realised what an opportunity it was to save cash, save carbon, and increase the comfort of his home. After researching and carrying out a full retrofit of his 1940s council house, he has a lovely warm house that is cool in summer and doesn’t emit tonnes of carbon or cost him huge energy bills. The ideal time to do retrofitting is if you are extending, or remodelling a house, then the disruption can all happen at once.

Some actions we can take will save cash and carbon but won’t increase comfort eg solar PV. Heat pumps will save carbon but not save cash or increase comfort. A woodburner increases comfort and saves cash, but does not decrease carbon. The two things that do all three are making your home airtight (but with adequate ventilation), and insulation.

Cheap simple things you can do:

  1. Find where your energy goes – space heating, water, cooking, greedy appliances. Look at your smart meter and your bills to get this information.

  2. Borrow a thermal imaging camera from Cambridge Carbon Footprint to see where you lose heat from your house.

  3. On a windy day see where the draughts are, using a camera as in 2, an incense stick, or a wet hand. Fill gaps with tape, beads, strips etc that are available. Don’t cover your air vents though!

  4. If you have a combi boiler (ie no hot water cylinder), adjust the flow temperature to 65C or less to get a better condensing effect.

  5. Make sure you have modern sensitive controls for your boiler.

  6. Insulate your hot water cylinder as thick as you can.

  7. Lag your pipes, hot and cold ones (to avoid condensation).

  8. Insulate your loft with eg 270mm of rockwool.

  9. Cavity wall insulation.

 

Bart then went on to discuss bigger changes. He stressed the importance of getting a professional whole-house-plan, costed and staged. It is important to work towards a uniform standard around the house – eg don’t insulate one area to a high level and leave another area nearby uninsulated, or there will be condensation and mould in the latter area. He discussed energy standards from the current rather weak EPC regulations, right up to Passivhaus standards (where you don’t need central heating, only an electric heater for very cold days).

Ways to make a house airtight but adequately ventilated were talked about. Ventilation can be passive (trickle vents etc) but tend to be too much in winter and not enough in summer, so there are ways of actively controlling it such as mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR).

He advocated exterior wall insulation, as it is very effective but doesn’t reduce the size of your rooms, and is not disruptive as underfloor insulation is.

If you’d like to see the slides for his talk, see the link youtu.be/GtffrRf97CI.

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to greengroupssss@gmail.com to sign up for our newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us). 

Helen Hale

Posted Oct 5 2022

2g3S

2G3S environmental update October 2022

What we’ve been up to

 

The talk on 5 September, ‘Heat Pumps Explained’ by Warren Pope, from Peterborough Environment City Trust, gave a wealth of information and links to companies supplying equipment. For a full set of his slides see our website. Basically, he stressed that if you decide to go for a heat pump, use a MCS certified installer, and ensure their proposals meet the design spec MIS 3005 – that is a guarantee that their proposals will keep you warm and work well. He gave us details about costs, longevity, and space needed outside and inside the house for equipment. He suggested alternative low energy heating solutions, such as Warmstone, Laminaheat, and infrared heaters. He also discussed hybrid systems, such as a heat pump, topped up with another energy source for very cold weather. He advised that as the cost of electricity was high and very volatile at present it may be best to wait awhile before installing a pump system, but that in the meantime it makes sense to insulate your home (borrow an infrared camera from Cambridge Carbon Footprint to check where the cold spots are in your house) and to install solar PV if you can. That way you will save money on your energy bills and save carbon emissions, whatever energy source you use. Then if the electricity prices settle you can decide about a heat pump.

The Repair Café on 10 September, as part of Great Shelford Free Church’s Eco Festival, was very busy. Why don’t you bring along your broken electricals, household items, jewellery, pieces of clothing, etc to the next Café, and get a repair done for the price of a small donation rather than having to buy new? Future Repair Café dates are listed below, also details of how to book a repair slot. Plus there’s coffee and cake while you wait!

 

Future Events

Monday 3 October - our conversation evening will complement the one on heat pumps, and is called ‘Low-Cost Energy Saving Measures’ by Bart Hommels, who has retrofitted his own home and featured in Cambridge’s Open Eco Homes. 8pm at  Cox's Close Community Room in Stapleford, just off Church Street (or people can log in via Zoom)

Read what Bart says in the latest 2G3S newsletter:

“My retrofit journey started when I got a home energy display. It made me acutely aware of our energy consumption and I was mesmerised by the stream of numbers. The game of bringing these down quickly caught on! It led to fitting solar panels a year later, another device producing many numbers to look at. When the opportunity arose to extend our 1940s semi, I wanted this to be the starting point of a whole-house upgrade instead of increasing energy consumption. Little did I know this would take many years to complete!

I managed the build and chipped in with specific eco jobs, doing a lot of homework to better


understand low-energy retrofitting practices. The result is almost complete, and I want to share my experience with you because, besides the lower fuel bills, I am over the moon with the transformation in comfort. In winter, we used to huddle in the living room and have blankets within reach, and in summer we would swelter. Now, the whole house is at an even temperature throughout the year: warm in winter and cool in summer, at a fraction of the carbon footprint.

With my talk I hope to enthuse, motivate and empower you to start retrofitting your home and begin enjoying the benefits!”

Saturday 15 October - the nature walk with John O’Boyle is at Dernford lake, from 2pm to 4pm.  See our website for more details. For all our walks, sturdy footwear and appropriate outdoor wear are advised. These walks are intended to raise awareness of our local wildlife sites and are open to all.

Monday 17 October - social cycle ride starting from Stapleford Pavilion at 10 am. Join us for a leisurely ride on quiet roads and traffic-free paths of around 20 miles, to include a coffee stop. Returning to Stapleford by about 1pm. To book in email greener@sawston.org.

For cycle rides and walks, it is important that you are aware that you attend at your own risk. We do not accept responsibility for any accidents or mishaps that might arise during the activity.

Future Repair Cafes: St Ives 8 October; Chesterton 15 October; Cambridge city centre 29 October; Fulbourn 12 November. For more details and to book in repairs, go to cambridgecarbonfootprint.org/repair-cafes/ and click through.

Wednesday 2 November – 2G3S planning meeting for 2023 talks and activities. Please bring along your suggestions.

Other News

You will recall the climate conference Cop26 hosted in Glasgow last November – lots of fine words but not much action. Instead of insulating homes and speeding up renewables our government seems hellbent on increasing oil exploration, which will not provide any more energy for about 30 years and will increase climate change. The next climate Cop, number 27, is in Egypt this year. Developed countries need to commit more to helping less-developed countries deal with the floods, droughts, and other climate disasters that they suffer - we have all been moved by the plight of people in Pakistan who have lost everything, again. Around the same time there is Cop15 for biodiversity, where it is hoped that all countries will sign up to measures to reverse the loss of species eg to protect 30% of the landscape by 2030. As with mitigating climate change, developing countries will need support from the richer countries to enable improvements to be made.

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to greengroupssss@gmail.com to sign up for our newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us). 

Helen Hale

Posted Sept 28

Great Shelford environmental news from 2G3S

 

What we’ve been up to

At the first Repair Café in Whittlesford, which was lively and very popular, we had an information stall and met up with their green group, Eco Whittlesford. We look forward to working with them in the future.

We held another Fruit and Veg Swap at the end of August. Looking at the apple crops round here this year, we should have been holding an Apple Fair!

The Book Club met in August, discussing ‘A Bigger Picture’ by Vanessa Nakate, bringing an African viewpoint to the climate crisis. Last time people read ‘Doughnut Economics’ by Kate Raworth – a thought-provoking book, advocating a new kind of economics that doesn’t just think of growth and GDP. It needs to value human wellbeing and fairness and we need to live within the planet’s means.

Future events

Monday 5 September ‘Heat Pumps Explained’ by Warren Pope, from Peterborough Environment City Trust. Johnson Hall, Stapleford, at 8pm, or by Zoom.

Repair Café at Gt Shelford Free Church’s Eco Festival, Saturday 10 September, 10am to 2pm. To book items in for repair and find out more see our website.

Our next Nature Walk, led by the very knowledgeable John O’Boyle, will be on Saturday 17 September at the Wale Field in Little Shelford from 2pm to 4pm.  See our website for more details. For all our walks, sturdy footwear and appropriate outdoor wear are advised. These walks are intended to raise awareness of our local wildlife sites and are open to all. For the walks, it is important that you are aware that you attend at your own risk. We do not accept responsibility for any accidents or mishaps that might arise during the activity.

There will be a Social Cycle Ride on Monday 19 September, starting from Stapleford Pavilion at 10 am. Join us for a leisurely ride on quiet roads and traffic-free paths of around 20 miles, to include a coffee stop. Returning to Stapleford by about 1pm. To book email greener@sawston.org.

On Monday 3 October our conversation evening will be ‘Low-Cost Energy Saving Measures’ by Bart Hommels, who has retrofitted his own home and featured in Cambridge’s Open Eco Homes.

Other news

Cambridge Carbon Footprint have published a Climate Change Charter with Cambridge City Council. As part of this they have distributed a map of recycling/reusing/repair facilities in the area. You may be able to pick up a paper copy in the library, or look online at cambridgecarbonfootprint.org/charter.

There was an interesting article in the Guardian on 6 August about ways to prevent drought, apart from 2-minute showers, water butts, reusing washing-up water to water your flowerpots, etc. For instance, beavers can be helpful in keeping a river’s water on the land rather than it rushing down a river towards the sea. With all the projected housing development in the SE the Government has to take action now to preserve our rivers and wildlife, keep our households supplied, and keep our food growing.

If you are interested in reading further on environmental matters, two books were recommended in the Cambridge Independent’s Summer Reads list: ‘Sacred Nature: How We Can Recover Our Bond with the Natural World’, by Karen Armstrong; and ‘Net Zero, Food and Farming’ by an East Anglian academic, Neil Ward.

​​

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to greengroupssss@gmail.com to sign up for our newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. We are a friendly group and welcome anyone who wants to come along. Also see our Facebook page and our website (type 2G3S into Google and you will find us). 

Helen Hale

Posted Aug 9 2022

Recycling:

Our waste collection service run by SCDC has one of the highest recycling rates in the country, but I know people get confused as to exactly what to recycle, and how. We’ve probably all been guilty of putting items in the blue bin, hoping they will get picked up by the recycling fairies – so-called “wishful recycling”. This can unfortunately contaminate other waste such that a whole batch cannot be recycled. Here’s a round-up of what SCDC can accept, and how to bin it for maximum recycling potential. Next month we’ll have information about the local specialist recycling services eg for crisp packets, toothpaste tubes, pens, duvets and pillows, and water filters.

What goes in my blue bin?

Paper; newspapers; magazines and envelopes; cardboard; cartons (eg Tetra Pak fruit juice cartons); plastic bags and film wrapping; plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays (excluding any black plastic which cannot currently be recycled); food and drinks cans; empty aerosols; greetings cards; wrapping paper (no metallic plastic); tinfoil and foil trays; biscuit and sweet tins; glass jars and bottles; shredded paper (must be bagged in a paper or clear plastic bag); metal tubes eg tomato puree.

Containers should be rinsed clean and dry. Squash plastic bottles and cans. Put tops/lids/spray triggers back on to jars and bottles so they don’t get lost during the recycling process, they will get found by hand sorting. Separate plastic wrappers from paper catalogues and so on, likewise for plastic windows that form part of a cardboard box. Batteries must not be put inside the blue bin but are collected for recycling: put batteries including AA and AAA cells, button batteries, size C and D and any laptop or mobile battery in a clear plastic bag and tie to your blue bin lid.

 

DO NOT PUT IN: black plastic food trays; metallic plastic wrapping paper or food wrapping like crisp packets; food; liquids; nappies; clothes, textiles or shoes (take to charity shops or clothing banks); expanded polystyrene or Styrofoam; foam/sponge; non-packaging hard plastic, eg toys and bowls; flat glass or mirrors; Pyrex; kitchen paper and tissues; dirty packaging; paint tins; baby food pouches; blister packs for pills; “compostable” cups or corn starch “plastic” wrapping (put into black bin or compost them yourself); plastic corks; paper with a plastic liner eg instant porridge sachets; trigger pumps with a metal spring in; fruit/veg nets; receipts; plastic toothpaste tubes.

More information at scambs.gov.uk/recycling-and-bins/.

If you are interested in green matters and the environment at all levels (individual, local, national, international), send an email to greengroupssss@gmail.com to sign up for our newsletter, or to get more information about our meetings. Also see our Facebook page or website. 

Helen Hale March 7 2022

Great Shelford environmental news

2G3S summer newsletter

 

News from Great Shelford Library

 

The Friends of Great Shelford Library are funding the purchase of a range of books on climate change and the natural world. Over the next year, we will be buying an eclectic mix including books by Mike Berners Lee, David Fleming*, and biologist E. O. Wilson; books on green growing, and "greenwash"; titles from the Penguin "Green Ideas" series; "spotter's guides" for people who want to explore local wildlife; and a range of children's books for younger readers. It will take a while to source and put the books on the shelves, but by autumn we hope to be ready to roll out the first books in a new display. Helen Harwood

Posted Aug 22 21

Tackling Climate Change and Biodiversity at a Local Level

Monday 6 September Talk by Pippa Heylings Chair of SCDC Climate and Environment Advisory Committee Member of national cross-party Climate Change Task Force for COP 26 7.30 pm Cox’s Close Community Centre, Stapleford (and by zoom)

 

We have all been scared by recent fires, floods and heat waves throughout the world, and by the message of the first part of the sixth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released on 9 August.

 

Pippa will lead a discussion on how we can respond locally, both as individuals and at a local authority level, especially in the run-up to the global climate summit COP 26 being hosted by the UK later this year. Contact us at greengroupssss@gmail.com to be sent the zoom link, or just turn up on the day.

Posted Aug 22 21

The Great Big Green Week, 18 – 26 September

 

The Great Big Green Week is a national week of activities promoting action on climate change. For more details, see here. To support this locally we are arranging various events including: • Litter picks in the local area weekend of 25/26 September. Litter picking can be fun - all hands on deck! Bags and grabsticks will be provided. Bring your own gardening gloves to protect your hands, and wear something green if you can. If you have noticed a particularly littered locality in the area, let us know and we will try and get there.

 

Fruit and Veg Swap weekend of 18/19 September.

 A virtual interactive talk on climate change and climate justice to support developing countries towards zero carbon. Led by Katie Williams. We are still finalising details of these events - contact us by email or on our Facebook page.

Posted Aug 22 21

Film: The Sequel: What will follow our troubled civilisation? Thursday 4 November, 7.30 pm. Venue details to follow (see website)

 

This optimistic film imagines a thriving, resilient civilization after the collapse of our current economies, drawing on the inspirational work of David Fleming, grandfather of the global Transition Towns movement. It is based on his posthumously published lifework "Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It”. Opening with a powerful 'deep time' perspective, from the beginning of the Earth to our present moment, the film recognises the fundamental unsustainability of today's society and dares to ask the big question: What will follow?

 

Can we develop diverse, convivial and satisfying lives without economic growth? We encounter extraordinary projects and people from four continents, with contributions from Kate Raworth, Roger Scruton, Stephan Harding , Helena Norberg-Hodge, Rob Hopkins, Jonathon Porritt and Peter Buffett.

Posted Aug 22 21

A plug for recycling electrical waste


New collection banks to help Greater Cambridge residents recycle more small electrical appliances have been set up in four housing developments.

The banks for old electrical items are being maintained by the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service – a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils.

Electrical items can’t be put into residents’ recycling bins, and households across Cambridgeshire throw an average of 2.6kg of them away in their black bins each year. In Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire this adds up to around 320 tonnes of e-waste which should have been recycled.

The new banks have been installed at Glebe Farm Drive, Hawkey Road, Osprey Drive and Fawcett Road on the Glebe Farm, Aura, Trumpington Meadows and Abode developments and are suitable for most small items which have a plug or a battery, including phones, toys, kettles and many more. The banks aren’t suitable for TVs, computers including laptops or large appliances such as lawnmowers though – and all these should be taken to a Household Recycling Centre.

The unwanted small appliances will be sorted for re-use and recycling by specialist company Wiser Recycling. Items that are undamaged, uncontaminated and repairable may be suitable for re-use within the UK. Wiser Recycling comprehensively tests the refurbished small appliances to ensure that they are safe and functional. Items that are unsuitable for re-use will get dismantled into their component parts. Many of those components are also suitable for re-use. For example, screens from broken monitors or power units from laptops. Items that fail the re-use screening are sent to local and national specialist operators who will recycle them into new substances or products.

Recycling e-waste is becoming more and more important as global stocks of materials like silver and lithium which are essential for components in mobile phones and other appliances are under pressure from increasing demand.

 

 

A grenade, toilet seat and disco lights are on a list of items that people across Greater Cambridge have wrongly put into their blue bins for recycling.

At the start of national Recycle Week, South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils have released a list of the strangest things found inside residents’ blue bins.

The list also includes a decorator’s paint tray and rollers (both covered in paint), metal tape measures, wellies, bricks and a games console controller. None of these things can be recycled via the blue bin and led to recycling being rejected at the Waste Management Park where recycling and waste is sorted. Recent finds that have wrongly ended-up in the recycling plant also include car brake discs, a clothes horse, bowling ball, gas cylinders and lots of cuddly toys. All have come from the recycling wheelie bins of residents.

During Recycle Week this week, residents are being reminded that “it’s in our own hands” to decide how much to recycle and take action to protect the environment. Recycling that people across South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City put into the blue bin gets sent off to re-processors to be turned into new products, with the Councils receiving valuable income for each tonne. In addition to ensuring less ends up in landfill, this provides additional income to help pay for vital frontline services.
Getting recycling right

Latest research from Recycle Now reveals that more than 60% of UK households are now recycling more than they were a year ago because of environmental concerns.

The research shows that more and more UK households are recycling plastic drinks bottles, cleaning product, toiletry and shampoo bottles, amongst other items including glass jars and bottles and tin cans. Nearly a third of these people cite environmental concerns as the main reason for doing more and others attribute it to an increased awareness of what can be recycled. Whilst the research showed an increase in recycling, it also showed that UK households sometimes incorrectly put items like nappies, wipes and clothing in the blue bin.
 

 

Putting the wrong items in your recycling can mean your blue bin doesn’t get collected, causing an inconvenience. Worse still, it could mean that an entire bin lorry load of recycling gets rejected and ends up heading for landfill.

Here are some products that you may not have known you can recycle in your blue bin:
Clean tin foil. Save up small bits until you can scrunch into a tennis ball size. This keeps it all together as it passes through the recycling plant.
Aerosol cans. Ensure they are empty and don’t crush them. Metal like this is extremely valuable to re-processors and can be recycled endlessly.
Plastic bottles from toiletries and cleaning products – including bleach, shampoo, nail varnish remover, etc.
Cartons, e.g. Tetrapak cartons from juice, soya milk, etc.

Here are some products that definitely shouldn’t go in your blue bin:
Food and liquid remains. A quick rinse or a wipe is usually enough to make your recycling clean. A tip for jars is to half fill with washing-up water, screw the lid on, shake, and empty. Any leftover chemicals or oil should be taken to a Household Recycling Centre.
Batteries. If damaged or crushed, batteries can catch alight and cause fires in the back of bin lorries or at the waste management park. Please put them in a clear bag and attach the bag to your blue bin so they can be disposed of safely
Clothing and textiles. Take these to a clothing bank or charity shop. Even clean worn-out clothes have value and can be recycled this way for other purposes.
Nappies, wipes, sanitary items, kitchen paper and tissues. These are all too dirty and low-quality to be recycled.
Black sacks, even if they contain recycling. Put recyclables in the blue bin loose.
 

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